C J Werleman takes a look at libertarian atheists.
In the days running up to Thanksgiving, Walmart urged its workers to donate food to their most in-need colleagues. You know, instead of Walmart having to pay said workers a livable wage. When people ask me what libertarianism looks like, I tell them that. By people I mean atheists, because for some stupid reason, far too many of my non-believer brethren have hitched their wagon to the daftest of all socio-economic theories.
It doesn’t help when atheist luminaries publicly extol their libertarianism. Penn Jillette writes, “What makes me a libertarian is what makes me an atheist—I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe….I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe.”
Oh right, because libertarianism alone among political commitments has no kind of belief at all, it’s just an empty space.
Famed science author and editor of Skeptic magazine Michael Shermer says he became a libertarian after reading Ayn Rand’s tome Atlas Shrugged. Wait, what? That’s the book that continues to inspire college sophomores during the height of their masturbatory careers, typically young Republicans (nee fascists). But unless your name is Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), most people grow out of the, “Screw you, I have mine” economic principles bestowed by the Russian-born philosopher by the time they’re legally old enough to order their first beer.
Ha! Quite so. (One correction though – Ayn Rand was not a philosopher. She was a screenwriter and then a novelist.)
Atheists who embrace libertarianism often do so because they believe a governing body represents the same kind of constructed authority they’ve escaped from in regards to religion.
Which would be great if it weren’t for the tiny flaw that it’s completely simple-minded.
Robert Reich says that one of the most deceptive ideas embraced by the Ayn Rand-inspired Right is that the free market is natural, and exists outside and beyond government. He writes:
“In reality, the ‘free market’ is a bunch of rules about 1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); 2) on what terms (equal access to the Internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections?); 3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?); 4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); 5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on. These rules don’t exist in nature; they are human creations. Governments don’t ‘intrude’ on free markets; governments organize and maintain them. Markets aren’t ‘free’ of rules; the rules define them.”
And it’s simple-minded not to realize that.